House of Blues – Chicago, IL
Photos by Christopher Free
Joshua Radin did something that not even his fans expected, he rocked out. Famously known as a confessional sort of artist that could whisper a song and still have listeners hanging onto every word, Radin previewed new songs that will appear on his third CD when performing Thursday at the Chicago House of Blues. Rock is new to Radin’s genre with the new CD being half folk and half rock and roll; he will start recording in February after the tour ends.
With a full house, Radin opened up the show with “Brand New Day” off his 2008 album “Simple Times.” Three songs in, the band which consisted of guitar, bass, drums, piano and Radin on guitar as well, stuck to instrumental choices that complimented the large venue. However, people who have been fans of Radin since the beginning were pleased the moment Radin stripped himself of his electric guitar and opted for an acoustic and quieter tone. The next four songs hushed a room of over 1,000 people, making the crowd feel as though they were sitting in a bedroom with Radin as he strummed songs like “Everything’ll Be Alright” and “Today.” And if things could not get more intimate than that, Radin jumped straight into the crowd with his band and performed “Sky” completely unplugged. From the balcony, the performance surrounded by swooning girls was reminiscent of a Mariachi band with Radin trying to win the heart of a girl from below.
The energy from the crowd after interacting with Radin carried into the second half of the concert with Radin singing one of his favorites, “You’ve Got Growing Up to Do.” The only thing that would have made the performance better would be an appearance by Patty Griffin herself who sings the harmonies on his sophomore album.
Up until this point, Radin’s concert was the type that fans of his music would want, intimate and full of meaningful lyrics and soulful singing. Then Radin turned up the volume, giving fans a sneak peek into the direction his third CD will be taking. The songs were so upbeat that the movement in the crowd increased automatically. Radin acknowledged this saying, “How often do you get to clap and dance at the same time at a Joshua Radin concert?”
By the time Radin tried to sober the tone with a moving acoustic piece that will be featured on his next CD entitled “I Think I’ll Go Inside,” the crowd seemed too amped up to be brought back down. The way in which he did so was by reminding fans of what makes his songs stand out from other folk singers. It seemed only fitting that he would end the set with the first song he ever wrote, “Winter.” The song is a reminder of the fact that while Radin’s music continues to evolve, he has kept his artistic sensibility, paying just as close attention to lyrics as to melody.
It is easy to forget the fact that Radin started his career a ripe five years ago. While Radin’s voice has remained calm, it has gained depth and power. This undoubtedly is due to the fact that Radin went from just singing in the shower to making it his life. He will no doubt gain new followers when his new CD comes out due to infusing rock and roll into his style. However, Radin maintains even in a concert venue to make listeners feel like they are listening to the soundtrack of his life.
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